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Dr Chris O'Donnell (University of the West of Scotland)

25 January 2024


Election address

I am an academic with 20+ years of experience in HE, and I am now a Department Head. I've always been a union activist. I've worked as a caseworker, branch secretary, president, and member of HEC and NEC, and I'm currently a UK-wide pay negotiator. Please vote for me and those who stand up for us, call out bad actors in our union and face up to our employers.   

As a conviction activist, I stay true to the following beliefs:   

  1. University staff are a University. Valued, respected and protected staff are the University experience.  

  1. As a collective, we are stronger; FE, Pre and Post 92 HE are protected & enhanced by each other; within that fortress, we will make change.    

  1. We are brave and honest. We strive to improve our working conditions through collective action. If they come for one, they come for us all.  

  1. We have the solutions: to our working, health, and equality challenges. We know the answers are complex and will take time; 20 years of erosion have brought us here.   

  1. When the time comes to stand up and tell the truth, I'll be there. Our union is under attack from within, those who carry out and endorse bullying, harassment and misogyny. In addition, those who stand with the attackers, claiming that they are "changing culture" whilst refusing to do that, call out or stand up to those who attack, and vote with them for personal gain.  

We need complex solutions to our sector's problems, and a set of representatives who make those needs paramount.   

  1. We need a new direction on pay, a multi-year deal, with a reformed pay spine, thus improving our collective rewards.  

  1. We need national frameworks on workloads that allow local agreements and practises to be meaningful.   

  1. We need security on the TPS pensions in FE & Post 92 institutions. 

  1. We need national controls on the recruitment and distribution of student numbers with an end to the "stack them high" approaches of some VCs.    

  1. We need 'fair pay for fair days' work', ending gender and race pay gaps, precarious work and zero-hours contracts.  

  1. Reducing the regulatory burden; we know that the TEF, REF and NSS achieve little except making us sick.   

To be clear, we can achieve these outcomes and improve our Universities. Please vote for those who want to do the hard work. That is why I am supporting Jo Grady for re-election to General Secretary and David Hunter as UCU Vice President; if elected, I will work with them for a stronger, more forward-looking union. To see who else is committed to the same cause, visit here 

Last updated: 25 January 2024